Orphazyme CEO departs for Leo Pharma as both companies face major restructurings
Someone else, it seems, will get the opportunity of trying to steer Orphazyme back to its former memeland glory.
In a bit of Danish biotech musical chairs, Orphazyme CEO Christophe Bourdon is leaving the rare disease biotech to become CEO of the dermatology-focused Leo Pharma, the companies announced. Bourdon’s departure, set for April 1, will come barely a year after he joined, although it was not an uneventful one.
When Bourdon was tapped to lead Orphazyme on March 1, 2021, the company was still awaiting a decision from the FDA on their central molecule in a rare neurodegenerative disease. That same molecule, which the company believed could eventually have broad utility in neuroscience, was also in late-stage studies for multiple other indications. The stock traded at over $11 per share, driven in part by retail and Reddit enthusiasm.
Since then, the FDA rejected their rare disease pitch, noting it failed both primary endpoints in that indication. And the molecule failed two more trials, whiffing in both ALS and a muscle-wasting disease called body myositis.
In June, Orphazyme announced it would lay off two-thirds of its workforce, leaving only staff to support “essential activities.” Orphazyme CFO Anders Vadsholt will replace Bourdon as CEO. He has some experience in that area, although this time it will come without the “interim” tag. The stock remained flat around $2 on the news.
Bourdon now leaves for a far larger organization that has had far more recent success but is also facing its own internal upheaval. Leo Pharma announced earlier this month it would eliminate over 1,000 positions, out of 6,000 current employees, over the next two years as it looked to boost its balance sheet ahead of a possible IPO. The company has been without a full time CEO since Catherine Mazzacco resigned in November after two years at the helm.
Leo’s major focus now, in addition to cost reductions, is commercializing Adbry, the atopic dermatitis drug it picked up from AstraZeneca in 2016 and got approved in December. The company also has several late-stage immunology candidates.